Combat Sandwich: WildStar’s Excellent-Sounding Abilities

Skills that actually take a degree of skill to use? Imagine that!

I am so very, very tired of quest-kill-collect MMOs. For the longest time, I figured I’d never really dive into another after having cured myself of The Craving with WoW, Tera, and countless F2P spins on the tried-and-tired formula. But now along comes WildStar, and it refuses to stop creeping onto my radar, leaving sci-fi anime bunny prints all over my pristine, MMO-free glass. It’s the details that count here, and I keep coming away thinking, “Golly gee willikers, that’s a right smart game tape Carbine’s got there, yes indeed-y.” And then I think, “Why am I thinking like that?” But then I go back to admiring WildStar for things like its varied, hyper-involved ability mechanics, which sound like the sort of no-brainer other MMOs should’ve come up with ages ago.

The short version? That combat system looks fantastic. Between afore-demonstrated targeting cones, hyper-mobile dodging, and now ability mechanics that actually involve you in combat, there are so very many wonderful ideas on display here. 

A lot of it really does boil down to such simple things. Tapping furiously to eek out a few extra dual-pistol blasts, holding down a key to decide the duration of an attack on the fly, or holding until the last possible second to unleash what you can of an attack before a hair’s breadth dodge. Basically, it’s less about robotically ability bar tapping squares and more about reacting with both your wits and your reflexes.

I’m still not entirely sure I’m up for 60 hours of questing and leveling, but these systems make it sound like significantly less of a chore. WildStar’s world looks like a vibrant, just-cartoony-enough place to explore, too, so it’s got me intrigued – if nothing else.

It’ll be out early next year. Are you feeling both wild and star enough to handle it? Or have you sworn off all things massive, multiplayer, and RPG until, say, EverQuest Next?


  1. Tjee says:

    Love the combat, hate the art style. But of course looks aren’t everything and are fairly subjective to say the least. When the time comes , I’ll definitely check out if this game holds its promises.

    :edit: Rewatched the trailer in Full HD from a computer screen. I kind of have a love/hate-relationship with the art style. On some points it resembles WoW a bit too much IMHO. But on other points it is quite beautiful (i.e. spell effects, reflections, original monsters). I’m just sort of tired of cartoony graphics I guess.
    The humor is indeed great though, I hope they implement that humor throughout the entire game. Games should never take themselves too seriously, unless they’re military simulators.

  2. Keymonk says:

    I’m loving the art style and their sense of humour. Hopefully the latter will make it into the game as well. Still, I -am- looking more forward to EQNext – though I will definitely see about Wildstar when it comes out and so on.

  3. Niko says:

    But will it still have enemies in groups standing here and there, waiting patiently for you to come?

    • jrodman says:

      Since I haven’t heard this discussed, I’m assuming yes. Please make me wrong, someone.

      • Smashington says:

        Played in beta 2 and 3. As of then it’s typical MMO bad guys that just stand around.

        Edit: But the game is still fun as hell!

  4. Low Life says:

    The dynamic cast times based on key press length sound good (both normal casts and channels), but I really don’t want to be tapping a key repeatedly to deal more damage. That depends a bit on the implementation, of course, but if they expect anything close to the average QTE’s amount of button smashing, that single mechanic could break the entire game for me.

    • Harlander says:

      Not to mention your keyboard…

    • Sakkura says:

      They also have button mashing in one of their “breakout gameplay” mechanics for breaking a CC. I didn’t like the sound of it then, and I’m not liking it here either.
      But other than that, both of these systems look brilliant.

      • Foosnark says:

        Button mashing to break out of a hold is a terrible frustrating mechanic, as Champions Online proves. It’s like a hyperactive version of someone very impatient for an elevator or crosswalk.

  5. Njordsk says:

    I’ll play TESO & wilstar while waiting for EQN. Man that one NEEDS to be great.

    Yes, I love MMOs

  6. Tei says:

    One of my favorite memories of Star Wars online was finding the holocrons im weird places.
    And I hate jumping puzzles. But exploring for these cubes felt like horizontal progression.

  7. tjuma says:

    After playing Guild Wars 2 I just can’t go back to those “stand around wait for your cast to finish” MMOs It was the final straw that made me quit WoW and the slow combat was the main thing that turned me off Final Fantasy XIV, even though the raiding and endgame looked nice :|
    I hope Wildstar delivers on both fronts, action-oriented comabt and a nice endgame with the traditional Heal, DPS, Tank Combo!

  8. Yargh says:

    very nice, and yet… they then go on to mention the Tank, Damage, Healer model as if it is a good thing.

    • Sakkura says:

      Better than the disorganized mess in trinity-free games like Guild Wars 2.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        I concur. If you’re going to abandon the Holy Trinity, you need to come up with an alternative that is better than “well, all classes are sort of tanky, sort of damagey, and can heal a bit”.

        • jrodman says:

          I like the way it *sounds*; we all have to cooperate etc.
          I just don’t like how it plays.

      • aliksy says:

        Ugh. Disagree. I don’t understand what people don’t like about GW2’s system. Play the game. You don’t need to be assigned a role.

      • SeismicRend says:

        I like that the tank/healer/dps model gives players a specialized role to perform. If you make everyone responsible for their own defenses then you still need to give them specialized roles or combat devolves into a zergy mess (GW2’s failing). I think Monster Hunter Tri solved this by giving each weapon type a strength in attacking the boss from different positions (front, flank, rear). There was no tank or healer, but you did need to make sure you had a player equipped to sever their tail, another specialized at smashing their armored horns, and another agile enough to evade around their legs and trip them up.

    • derbefrier says:

      it is a good thing.

  9. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Early trailers said there will be DEATH FORTRESSES. I can’t believe they’re being so remiss as to not tell us about the DEATH FORTRESSES.

    • Horg says:

      They are following standard imperial procedure. By announcing the DEATH FORTRESS early in development, they bait the rebels into destroying the original with a handful of barely trained men. This clears the way for them to construct AN EVEN BIGGER DEATH FORTRESS.

  10. Winged Nazgul says:

    I’ll definitely be checking it out but have no illusions that it will hold me for long. But that’s not a knock on Wildstar, just MMO’s in general.

  11. boyspud says:

    I like the look of Wildstar, but I’ve always wondered why doesn’t anyone just try a straight up conversion of single player mechanics? It would be great to see an mmo where you control your character similar to something like Dark Souls or Devil May Cry or God of War etc. Making combat into a careful to and fro of attack abilities and dodging/blocking/parrying moves with a combo system tied to what weapon type you use, but controlled in such a way that it feels smooth and not just like activating a hotbar ability. Maybe even like an mmo version of Monster Hunter. I guess Tera tried this, but I haven’t felt from reading about it an overwhelming need to play it.
    Or what about a first person mmo that isnt strictly a shooter. Having classes with specialised roles like a class similar to Thief, a class similar to Dishonored, a class similar to Dark Messiah etc etc. There are so many ways an mmo could play that we don’t see explored.

    • aliksy says:

      Dark Souls is too hard for the MMO audience. Much of the MMO audience wants progress quest with more pats on the back.

    • Josh W says:

      From what I saw of tera, it wasn’t massively different to wildstar, an oversimplified single player style brawler system ends up looking similar to a more reactive hotkey system. Looking at how neverwinter worked though, I think they may have made a mistake by having ubiquitous move and attack and quick cancels. The problem there is that too much flexibility recreates the stand still and attack framework at a higher level, as ubiquitous dodging nullifies the effect of telegraphed template attacks, encouraging auto-target instead.

      On the other hand, perhaps the strong pve focus will mean that’s not an issue; I’m mostly thinking in terms of PVP arms races. And also, it’s possible that if balanced right, coordinated and timed templates could still have high levels of accuracy, you’d just need them to be as effective individually as focused fire, assuming you’ll be spreading them to cover space and nullify dodging, missile command style.

  12. Viroso says:

    Are all these things new to MMO combat?

    • Foosnark says:

      Not really. Nor is the promise of things that are new which aren’t actually new, and/or which aren’t actually delivered, and/or turn out to be much less amazing than people thought they would be.

  13. 2helix4u says:

    Can RPS step off the hype train for MMOs please?
    We’ve been through this with GW2 already. None of these things are new to MMOs or even to WoW, Wildstar is going to be WoWxGW2 and will have the same downward arc as all post-WoW themepark MMOs.
    Same goes for Everquest Next, can we stop pretending they look remotely interesting and not about just smacking bags of hitpoints.

    I get it, I did the same thing, after WoW until very recently I got excited for all MMOs and bought all of them day one. After about 4 hours of hitting mobs with cycling abilities though I either totally disconnect from them and leave or they tickle me enough to resub to WoW instead.
    Some of the Wildstar stories I’ve been seeing those same “WoW-killer” (yes really) comments, lets all calm down about MMOs for a while huh.

    But World of Darkness looks pretty sick right!?

    • Geewhizbatman says:

      Right?! I can’t believe more people aren’t losing their shit with the kind of stuff WoD is talking about. A vampire simulator that promotes social and political maneuverings? Three distinct play styles that remain interconnected? Total PvP with protected zones but punishment via Masquerade? Oh and let’s not forget even the sneak peeks look damn pretty!